Saturday, May 13, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 13, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Allies continued to move forward on the Gustav Line south of Cassino in Italy, advancing two to three miles in some positions. The Eighth Army had crossed the Rapido River while the Fifth Army was attacking German positions fiercely in the area around Castelforte, 13 miles south of Cassino, seizing three villages and the nearby town of Cosmo San Damiano, causing the Germans completely to withdraw from the area of Castelforte. The French had captured the 2,550-foot peak of Monte Faito, a hinge of the German defensive line, about halfway between Castelforte and San Ambrogio.

Air cover by the Allies was thick and heavy, flying 3,000 sorties during the previous day, meeting no German resistance, spotting only a single fighter in the sky.

The objective now was Rome. First the Gustav Line had to be invested and then, ten to fifteen miles beyond it, the heavily fortified Hitler Line.

Another large American raid from England, consisting of 750 heavy bombers and 1,000 fighter escorts, struck an aircraft plant at Tutow in Germany and rail yards in Osnabruck, a few miles east of the Dutch border.

The night before, 750 RAF bombers struck again at targets in Northern France and at Louvain and Basseli in Belgium.

From midnight to dusk of this date, the Allies had dropped, both from England and Italy, 6,800 tons of bombs from about 4,000 planes, in the 29th successive day of heavy air raids on the Reich.

In Russia, the Germans were attacking on the west bank of the Dniester River, northwest of Tiraspol, attempting to obliterate the Russian bridgehead. The Red Army had inflicted 4,000 casualties and destroyed a hundred German tanks in the engagement.

Final figures in the five-week Crimean Campaign were announced by the Soviets: 111,687 German casualties, 50,000 of whom had been killed, including 20,000 in the final three-day push against Sevastopol; 191 enemy ships were sunk in the Black Sea, including 69 troop transports.

In Northern Burma, General Joseph Stilwell's Chinese and American forces were on the move in the Mogaung Valley, ten miles north of Kamaing, heading toward the Japanese stronghold at Myitkyina.

From Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito announced that between April 5 and May 5, Partisan forces under his command had killed 2,000 German troops in fighting at Montenegro and at Sandzak while suffering 900 losses of their own. Fighting continued in all regions of Yugoslavia.

At Allied Headquarters in London, it was reported that the word was mum. Military men who dared speak at all to one another stuck to banalities such as, "Heard anything about the Cardinals' pitching staff this season?" Even then, they nervously backed away quickly from one another for fear that a security officer might think the word Cardinals bore in its recesses some code betraying the time of D-Day.

--Got any money on the Preakness?

--No, it's a spray job.

--A paint job, eh?

--No, a spray job.

Sid Feder, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, tells of the "Lido Beach" on the Anzio beachhead, replete with lifeguards and suntan oil, a newly inaugurated paradise in which officers could relax in the sand and surf, maybe catch a wave, perhaps a few winks, enjoy a smoke, drink a beer.

Only one little catch: don't go in search of seashells for that which might be attached, bringing hell with high tide, a land mine. The whole beach was lined with them, albeit now fenced off in secure areas.

The beach builder was Lt.-Col. Ray Novotny, a former All-American football back at Ashland College in Ohio, (apparently not at Ohio U., as Mr. Feder indicates), and then of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL.

Army nurses and WAC's were permitted on the beach.

A photograph appears of Herschel Wilson of Hawthorne, California, a soldier who had managed to capture seventeen Japanese prisoners single-handedly in the vicinity of Hollandia where the latest land operations had occurred in the Pacific. He drove his jeep with one hand while steering the prisoners with his rifle in the other. He was also amply equipped with hand grenades hanging off the jeep's windshield, presumably captured from the enemy.

On the editorial page, "Revenge" takes to task the tack of the Writers' War Board, a group of writers, including Samuel Grafton and fellow syndicated columnist Franklin P. Adams ("FPA"), headed by mystery writer Rex Stout. Mr. Stout took the line of preaching hatred against Germans as a morale inducing weapon to win the war, and, though this view was antithetical to the views of many of the Board's members, including the aforementioned, it was the one which held sway for being promulgated by the chairman.

The editorial finds it dangerous to promote such animus against German citizens, even including refugees from Germany in the United States who had sought to form democratic councils on behalf of Germans in the homeland. The effort, says the piece, was to be likened to the propaganda machine of Herr Doktor Goebbels.

A harsh and bitter peace should not include hardness toward all German civilians.

"Lonesome" discusses the prospect that South Carolina's state convention would likely reject a fourth term for FDR and go to the Chicago convention in July with that chip on its shoulder, finding itself, if so, lonely even among Southern states, where, despite a great deal of resentment against the Roosevelt Administration for its domestic policies, there was also a groundswell of tremendous continued political support, especially given the overriding stakes extant in the war.

"Olden Days" remarks on the memories conjured by a retiring railway worker from Murphy, N.C., a small mountain town in the westernmost part of the state, returning to the village for the first time since 1891 when he arrived there as the fireman on the first train running from Asheville to Murphy, July 4 of that year. He had recounted that he hardly recognized the place.

The piece finds it remarkable, for if such changes had occurred in half a century in Murphy, it bespoke volumes of the changes in the larger cities of the state and nation.

His memories, perhaps, were not so unlike those wistfully recounted by Sarah Gudger of Asheville, as preserved by the Federal Writers' Project in 1938, in her case remembering back to the night the Stars Fell in 1833, a time when the stars could be seen without being obfuscated by the lights from the city, a time before the electric age, before its hum, before its hammer, which we all blot out and do not consciously hear, until it is at once gone for awhile, as in an earthquake in downtown San Francisco.

"The Test" exhorts the Government to take the same firm and immediate steps to end the strike of the Foreman's Association in the 13 munitions plants in the Detroit area as it had taken in decisively ending the impasse at Montgomery Ward through seizure of the plant in Chicago. By contrast, work cessation at the munitions plants posed a direct threat to the war effort and so required even more the immediate intervention by the Government.

It concludes that the support which The News had given to the Montgomery Ward action would be dissipated should the Government not take an equally firm stance in the Detroit matter.

Samuel Grafton addresses the timid methods of the Army in censoring its publication Stars & Stripes, preventing it from printing anything but sugar-coated news from home, avoiding the slightest taint of controversy. He compares the treatment to that of the British service newspapers which, since the North African Campaign in 1942, had been full of controversial views, soldiers sticking it to their officers in impudent letters, publication of expository articles, the sum of which had plainly not adversely affected in the least British morale.

The Americans insisted that their soldiers see the world from behind dainty lace curtains.

It should be pointed out that, the previous month, Stars & Stripes had disclosed the truth about the friendly fire incident at Catania in Sicily, that occurring three days after the July 11 Gela incident, 454 Americans having been killed when 33 transport planes were shot down by the Navy, this second incident originally not having been reported and then having been denied by the Navy when disclosed by Drew Pearson.

Marquis Childs discusses the trip to London by Undersecretary of State Edward Stettinius and his suddenly and unexpectedly, without preparation of remarks, being thrust by Prime Minister Churchill into a meeting before fully 285 members of Parliament, nevertheless handling the situation well and affably. The talk centered largely on Lend-Lease and its contributions to the war effort and the good devices to which the British had put it.

Dorothy Thompson comments on the Government's continuing shortage of war workers and its seeking to alleviate it by attracting the large number of women in the country who were yet unemployed. Whereas most single women were employed, the bulk of homemakers, especially those holding down the fort alone, were not. The effort had worked to apprise women of the labor shortage, as 73 percent reported being aware of it. But 41 percent indicated that they were too much needed in the home, with men in service and children in need of care, while 36 percent stated that they believed themselves not possessed of sufficient skills to work in war industries, that it was too demanding for them physically.

Ms. Thompson elucidates the basic problems of single parenting and the absence of good childcare facilities. But as to the other women, who merely believed that the war work was too demanding for them, the fault lay in the war industries who took out whole-page ads to promote their companies but failed the while to accentuate specific needs for war jobs, many of which were less demanding than basic household work.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh, in a piece which might be titled "The Medium is the Message", suggests that few words often impel the moving of mountains through the ages whereas useless verbiage supplies only the stockpile for the garbage dump or the kindling for the fireplace.

He would likely therefore agree with Professor McLuhan's wish that all authors be required to issue no more than one word per month, and thus make each word count.

He concludes with Proverbs 25:11: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

Of course, one can preach the abstention from wordiness all day and never follow the advice thus given, any more than did the Reverend Spaugh, any more than did Marshall McLuhan, any more than do we on any given day--or, confess it, whether written or spoken, do you.

Nope, you lie. Don't tell us that.

Pictures of silver? Is that like a mirror?

We could go on…

In short, one word: Apples.

Reports a news piece on the page, Captain Richard I. Bong, holder of the new kill record for most planes shot down in combat, 27 to date, to be 40 by war's end, returned home to Chicago to greet his ma and pa, on leave from the war.

Drew Pearson's column of the day had been delayed in the mail and so his space was taken with a piece by Tom Jimison, last heard from at Easter, looking forward now to Mother's Day.

He tells of how he intends to go back to his home village of Haywood and spend the Sunday with his old ma and pa and his older brother Sam, have an old-fashioned home-cooked meal, tell stories, and go swimming down by Jonathan's Creek, in the swimming hole they called the Ol' Jordan.

Yet…, and yet…

Still, he insisted, he was going back home for Mother's Day this Sunday.

He asked us to join him, and so we're off for the rest of the day.

Start up the old Model A, Tom, old pal, and let's be off. See you Monday.

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